Flubbed hardware fix knocked out 911 calls, T-Mobile US cops big fine

Telco chips $17.5m into federal pot after leaving millions of Americans in the lurch

10 Reg comments Got Tips?

T-Mobile US will cough up a $17.5m (£11.2m) fine after a botched equipment upgrade cut off emergency 911 calls for millions of Americans for hours.

In a settlement [PDF] with US watchdog the FCC, T-Mob today promised to pay up, and improve its network in America to prevent future outages. T-Mobile US made a $247m profit last year, from revenues of $29.56bn, so the fine represents a seven-per-cent hit on its bottom line.

On August 8, 2014, 911 calls could not be made through the telco's network as a result of a bungled hardware install. According to the FCC, almost 50 million T-Mobile US subscribers across the country were left without access to the network in two separate outages on the day. The combined downtime lasted for approximately three hours, during which time no calls, not even 911 calls, could be made.

The FCC accused T-Mobile US of creating a public danger.

"The commission has no higher priority than ensuring the reliability and resilience of our nation's communications networks so that consumers can reach public safety in their time of need," FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said in a canned statement.

"Communications providers that do not take necessary steps to ensure that Americans can call 911 will be held to account."

In addition to the fine, T-Mobile US must update its networks to better handle network outages in the future, and must put in place better monitoring and reporting systems. The upgrades are set to be installed over the next 30 to 120 days.

"The safety of our customers is extremely important and we take the responsibility to provide reliable 911 service very seriously," T-Mobile US said in a statement to The Register.

"We have made significant changes and improvements across a number of our systems since last year, and we will continue working to improve these critical systems with our partners to provide the standard of service our customers rightly expect from T-Mobile." ®


Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020